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Friday  •  March 27, 2020

Early Concerns about HCPSS’ Lagging Continuity of Learning Plan

By Steven Keller

In an email update yesterday, Superintendent Martirano claimed that “All 24 Maryland school districts are implementing continuity of learning that is unique to that district, driven by available technology and resources”. That’s true, of course, but compare what an HCPSS Kindergarten student received on March 13 here and the materials from March 25 here with what Baltimore City Kindergarten students and parents received here on March 13 (or soon after) here.


Day 1 alone (out of 5 days for Baltimore City’s distance learning materials) has 64 pages of detailed exercises and lessons. In contrast, HCPSS Kindergarteners received a single sheet of paper to cover their activity for the past two weeks and in total have received 8 pages of barebones material to work with.


Parents aren’t demanding the impossible and aren’t misunderstanding the situation. They know that HCPSS leadership was unacceptably unprepared for an extended shutdown situation, particularly and sadly compared to neighboring counties whose residents pay far less in county taxes.


No one is insisting on full 8-hour days of online streamed classes, or even any online streaming during this dire situation unless and until its ready and teachers are available and willing. All parents & students yearn for is sufficient guidance & learning material for parents to be able to employ at times during the day, each day, to achieve some semblance of continuity to the style of lessons that their children had been receiving in school.


It was a relief to discover Baltimore City’s generous supply of continuity of learning materials for early learners. These materials are along the lines of what Board of Education member Chao Wu mentioned yesterday in his Board report, when he said “I am looking forward to a simple, limited structured instruction plan for our students before we have a fully developed plan. We could not wait for another four weeks. For example, a relatively structured curriculum and routine for students day by day, one for the morning and one for the afternoon, with much longer recess time. This will be very helpful for many students and parents.”


If we had received anything close to that level of preparedness from HCPSS leadership during these past few weeks, there would have been far less criticism from anxious and disappointed parents. Expressing and holding our school & county leadership to at least the level of those in our neighboring counties is not unreasonable and demonstrates our love for our county, our school system and our students, parents and teachers.


We expect the same level of leadership and upholding of high standards from our BOE members.

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